Microsoft rethinks Recall, diff turns fifty, ChromeOS switching to Android, Alexa drops the ball & more

Changelog News

Developer news worth your attention

Jerod here! 👋

After months of sorting more than 50k bricks & numerous weekends of building, Paul Vierkant & his son finished their greatest Lego project ever!

The fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy

This is how we built stuff (on a much smaller scale) back in my day… Ok, let’s get into the news.


🎧 Good pods for your work week

🎙️ Kelsey Hightower is retired, not tired. changelog.fm/595
👂🗣️ Loved that. Bidets and all ✨
💚 Justin Searls joins us for WWDC hot takes changelog.com/friends/48
⏰ How things get done on the Go Team gotime.fm/318
🚀 Render’s Anurag Goel talks PaaS infra shipit.show/108
🤖 Using edge models to find sensitive data practicalai.fm/273

😪 The onset of “Senior Engineer Fatigue”

I’m starting to feel this article by “luminousmen” in my old bones:

As you move deeper into your engineering career, a peculiar phenomenon starts to set in — a phase I like to call the onset of “Senior Wisdom”.

It’s the juncture where your career trajectory pivots from a steep upward learning curve to a more nuanced expansion either vertically into leadership or horizontally across technologies. But alongside this wisdom comes a less discussed but equally important companion: “Senior Fatigue”.

What characterizes “Senior Fatigue”? According to the author: deliberate deceleration, efficiency over activity, the question of value vs relevance & the overwhelming desire to start a podcast. Ok I made up that last sentence, but did I really though? 😉

🪞 Microsoft rethinking Recall?

It might be too early to call this a Total Recall (😏), but Microsoft is pumping the brakes on the AI-based Recall feature that was coming to Copilot+ PCs (worst name ever?) due to “feedback” on “security concerns”:

Today, we are communicating an additional update on the Recall (preview) feature for Copilot+ PCs. Recall will now shift from a preview experience broadly available for Copilot+ PCs on June 18, 2024, to a preview available first in the Windows Insider Program (WIP) in the coming weeks.

I tried Recall for myself on the Microsoft Build show floor. It reminded me some of Apple’s Time Machine feature, but on steroids. It was super cool, but also a bit creepy/concerning. What is strange to me about this announcement is they reference security as the reason for their hesitancy, but it seems that we technologists are far more concerned with the privacy implications.

Here’s one particularly cynical take by HN user segasaturn (which I have a hard time completely disagreeing with)

Every major power broker wants something like Recall to become the norm - bosses to spy on their employees, governments to spy on their citizens/enemies, and tech CEO’s to collect training data for AI and target more ads at end users.

🦾 Strong, unique passwords for you & your team

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Have you ever checked in to 1Password’s developer tools? They have some much great stuff! You can:

  • Push, pull & sign your Git commits
  • Secure your SSH keys
  • Authorize SSH connections with biometrics
  • Manage it all from the op command line tool

They even has a developer Slack for you to join if you have any questions.

We use 1Password and we think you and your team should too. So, here’s a deal just for our readers: sign up right here to double your free trial to 28-days! (vs 14-days for the plebs)

🥳 Fifty years of diff

Mike Hoye gives a big shout out to a piece of software so foundational to our work that we mostly likely take it for granted: diff

I haven’t seen anybody mentioning it or even noticing it; it’s just the water we swim in now, if we make software. But this month marks the fiftieth anniversary of a core piece of free software technology that would quickly become a seminal piece of collaborative software, the bedrock under every version control system and arguably the single most important piece of social software ever created.

Hard to believe that diff pre-dates merge by three years and patch by a decade! Mike goes on:

My friend Greg Wilson has argued, and I absolutely believe, that you can divide the entire computational universe into who has diff and patch, and who doesn’t. It’s the seed crystal of all workable open collaboration, and people living without it don’t even have the language to recognize how bad they’ve got it.

Happy 50th birthday, diff!

🤖 ChromeOS switching to the Android Linux kernel

Thom Holwerda for OSNews:

Surprisingly quietly, in the middle of Apple’s WWDC, Google’s ChromeOS team has made a rather massive announcement that seems to be staying a bit under the radar. Google is announcing today that it is replacing many of ChromeOS’ current relatively standard Linux-based subsystems with the comparable subsystems from Android.

I’ve always thought it was odd (but admittedly Google-y) that they funded two distinct variants of the Linux kernel and its related subsystems. The work began with the Bluetooth stack, which now uses Android’s Fluoride implementation, which is written in Rust and has a simpler architecture, according to The GOOG. Once it’s solid, they intend to split out this Bluetooth stuff into an open source project (named Project Floss) and share it with the broader Linux ecosystem. Then fire the team that supports it. Ok I made up that last sentence, but did I really though? 😉

📉 How Alexa dropped the ball

Both Apple’s Siri & Amazon’s Alexa were poised to become top conversational AI systems, but somehow they let ChatGPT (and potentially a wave of new startups) steal the ball. In this post, Mihail Eric (who worked on Alexa from 2019 to 2021), tells the inside story on Alexa’s failure:

We had all the resources, talent, and momentum to become the unequivocal market leader in conversational AI. But most of that tech never saw the light of day and never received any noteworthy press.

Why?

The reality is Alexa AI was riddled with technical and bureaucratic problems.

From their bad technical process, to the fragmented org structures, to a product-science misalignment… this post shares the gory details from Mihail’s perspective. He still thinks it’s anyone’s game, though, and he lays out how he’d organize a dialogue systems effort from the ground-up. In brief:

  1. Invest in robust developer infrastructure especially around access to compute, data quality assurance, and streamlined data collection processes.
  2. Make LLMs the fundamental building block of the dialogue flows.
  3. Ensure product timelines don’t dictate science research time frames.

🖥️ A Macintosh for under £5

Matt Evans built a MicroMac with 128KB of RAM just like the original Macintosh:

the original 128KB version was underpowered and only sold for a few months before being replaced by the Macintosh 512K, arguably a more appropriate amount of memory.

But, the 128 still runs some real applications and, though it pre-dates MultiFinder/actual multitasking, I found it pretty charming. As a tourist. In 1984 the Mac cost roughly 1/3 as much as a VW Golf and, as someone who’s into old computers and old cars, it’s hard to decide which is more frustrating to use.

So back to this £3.80 RPi Pico microcontroller board: The RP2040’s 264KB of RAM gives a lot to play with after carving out the Mac’s 128KB – how cool would it be to do a quick hack, and play with a Mac on it?

This post is his development journey, with lots of fun pictures along the way.

MicroMac picture

🧩 Elixir 1.17 ships first features of new type system

Andrea Leopardi:

This release introduces set-theoretic types into a handful of language constructs. While there are still many steps ahead of us, this important milestone already brings benefits to developers in the form of new warnings for common mistakes. This new version also adds support for Erlang/OTP 27, the latest and greatest Erlang release. You’ll also find a new calendar-related data type (Duration) and a Date.shift/2 function.

For a deep-dive on the work the Elixir team is doing to make the language gradually typed, refer back to our recent conversation with José Valim on that very subject.

🐘 Instant branching for Postgres

Thanks to Neon for sponsoring Changelog News 💰

We create branches in our code all the time, but what if we could branch our database just as easily? Thanks to Neon, that’s actually a thing!

Branch your data with a single click or API call & their copy-on-write technique makes it happen instantaneously and cost-effectively. This is great for dev, but also for easily rolling out preview environments with up-to-date copies of your production data.

Don’t take my word for it, try branching in your project right here.


🎞️ Adam on Oxide and Friends

WARNING: I couldn’t make this recording and if Bryan’s Pied Piper shirt in the thumbnail is any indicator, you may be exposed to dangerous levels of HBO’s Silicon Valley by watching this ☢️

Oxide and Friends thumbnail


🔗 Quick hits before I let you go

Polar Products: the Patreon for devs platform rolls out big new features.

Perfect Bug Report: the essential items to include in bug reports

UUIDv7 in 20 languages: an exploration of the UUIDv7 structure.

ULID: UUID can be suboptimal for many use-cases, so ULID was created

visionOS simulator: a tool for trying out your website in the spatial web

shpool: a simpler/lighter weigt version of what tmux and screen offer

Unforget: an offline-first, e2e encrypted note taking app

Revideo:: an open source framework for programmatic video editing.


That’s the news for now, but we have some great episodes coming up this week: Jacob DePriest talks securing GitHub with us on Wednesday & our old friend Daniel Stenberg from curl on Friday!

Have a great week, forward this to a friend who might dig it & I’ll talk to you again real soon. 💚

–Jerod